Wayne State University: Medical Students Tutoring Program

March 28, 2013 - 8:57am

What motivates them?

Medical students are a pretty busy bunch: studying, memorizing, exams, high expectations, late night rounds and grueling clinicals all contribute to a hectic schedule. Yet, a local group of these future health care providers make time each week to help kids at Covenant House Michigan with their homework questions.

Wayne State University medical students show up on a weekly basis, to tutor the kids here on campus. Their help makes it possible for our youth to finish their high school diploma, complete a GED, or begin college without having to feel like they are on their own once they walk out of the classroom.

When asked why they come and what motives them to take on this task which doesn’t quite fall under the category of “medical preparation” their inspiring responses summarize the vision these young people have.

For Zoya Gavrilman, who coordinates the tutors’ schedules, the learning experience that takes place for both tutors and kids keeps her involved. “It isn’t easy to forget an experience like tutoring kids in downtown Detroit. Being a part of this community has definitely been a transition for me, having never lived in a large city previously. Seeing what these kids have to deal with every day is something that I should always keep in the back of my mind, knowing that the harder I work and the more I learn, the more I’ll be able to help those who need it when the time comes.”

One of the most exciting experiences she had tutoring was when a kid came to her with a progress report, “A student once told me that he had advanced several grade levels in just a few months, and that our tutoring had helped him with this process.”

Nabil Al-Kourainy, a program coordinator, likes to highlight the ‘Covenant House Tutoring’ program when people ask about his time in Detroit, “I always tell them about Covenant House Michigan. I can’t believe the wonderful programs and services they provide. It is such a resource to the city.”

For one of the tutors, Fariha Hussain, the good experience she had tutoring in undergrad brought her to Covenant House. She loved knowing that she could open a student’s eyes to see the beauty of a subject they didn’t like before.

“Originally I got involved as I was excited about helping this age group. I knew I would be comfortable with high-school level materials and wanted to help these students who missed out on so much of the education they should have received at a much younger age. One of the things I really like about tutoring is that is it customizable- you take the kids where they are, go back to basics, and build on the knowledge they have to get them to the next level.”

Another tutor, Shawn Stewart, sees the experience of working in the city as a way to learn how to relate to a broader range of patients in his future work.

“When I started at Wayne State, I knew that I wanted to be involved with the community and to actually get a feel for how the city runs and operates. I’ve wanted the chance to be able to see the type of people and the experience that this city has had to endure, and I know that for those in the Covenant House, this may not always have been enjoyable. It was especially for that reason that I wanted to be able to help the kids who truly want to help themselves, even though life may have had its difficulties. Their will to accomplish great things in their lives that I’ve seen and heard since volunteering is why I stick with it. It’s a rare quality that I would love to see more of. A few of my students expressed interest in medicine and college life, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day they come back in the next generation of tutors themselves, and that makes me happy.”

One of the best experiences he had while tutoring actually wasn’t even tutoring. He recalls working with DeJuan, a resident there who wanted to do his taxes for the new jobs that he had, “We were laughing and talking the whole time, and generally goofing off. It shows that it really doesn’t matter the circumstances that you are in, people can connect in many ways. In fact, he even taught me a few things that day, so it isn’t just about the tutors coming to teach the kids, but more often than not, for the kids to teach the tutors.”

While each of their responses varies a bit, all of the Wayne State Medical Students get excited about making a difference in our kids’ lives. Like us, they recognize the wealth of human potential on our campus and want to invest in making up for the educational gaps facing our kids.

In turn, our youth are grateful for the help they receive in cracking algebra codes, checking grammar, and trying to figure out the best way to prepare for their SAT or ACT tests.

Thank you, busy medical students, for taking time to put your homework aside in order to spend time helping our kids with theirs!

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